Early January, 2024 Cam covered a situation involving a housing authority discriminating against tenants by including a firearms ban in their lease, forcing those seeking aid from the Cortland Housing Authority in New York, to surrender their right to keep and bear arms as a condition of taking residence at such properties. A lawsuit spearheaded by the Second Amendment Foundation was filed as a result of the ban, Hunter et.al. v. Cortland Housing Authority. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for Northern New York. On January 30th, 2024, a temporary restraining order was issued against CHA, enjoining them from enforcing their unconstitutional provisions.
Oral arguments were held for this case on January 16, 2024. The complaint revolved around the provisions being facially unconstitutional on a Second Amendment basis. “The Supreme Court made clear in Heller, the home is where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute,” SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut observed. “We’ve been involved in similar cases and prevailed because a ban on the possession of firearms in public housing is a flagrant violation of Second Amendment rights.”
In the court’s analysis, SAF is likely to win on the merits.
After carefully considering the matter, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood on the merits of their first claim, for the reasons stated by them in their memoranda of law. See, supra, Parts I.C.1. and I.C.3. of this Decision and Order. To those reasons, the Court adds four points (which are intended to supplement, and not supplant, Plaintiffs’ reasons).
First, as a threshold matter, the Court has trouble accepting defense counsel’s argument
that “[p]ublic housing . . . was assuredly not something that our Founding Fathers could have contemplated at the time of the drafting of the Constitution or the time of the drafting of the Second Amendment, [because] it just did not exist.
Second, in any event, the Court is dutifully mindful of the Second Circuit’s directive that
“courts must be particularly attuned to the reality that the issues we face today are different than those faced in . . . the Founding Era, the Antebellum Era, and Reconstruction. . . . Thus, the lack of a distinctly similar historical regulation, though (again) no doubt relevant, may not be reliably dispositive in Second Amendment challenges to laws addressing modern concerns.” Antonyuk, 89 F.4th at 302. The Court is also mindful of the Supreme Court’s similar directive that “the Constitution . . . must . . . apply . . . .” Bruen, 597 U.S. at 28. As a result, the Court will faithfully trace the analytical inquiry proposed by Defendants.
Third, Defendants’ justification also teeters precariously on their assertion that the
Firearms Ban is not “categorical” in nature (given that tenants may supposedly possess rifles, shotguns and crossbows on CHA property without breaching the lease). Even if the Court were persuaded by this assertion,17 the Supreme Court in Heller specifically rejected it as a ground for finding such a firearms regulation constitutional[.]
Fourth, and finally, the Court does not understand Plaintiffs to be arguing that they may,
under the Second Amendment, bear a firearm in self-defense in the common areas of CHA property…Rather, the Court understands Plaintiffs to be arguing that merely that they may, under the Second Amendment, securely transport their firearms to and from their home through the common areas of CHA property, in compliance with New York State law.
Seeing pseudo-governmental bodies act in such a manner is deplorable. Much like any other jurisdiction that’s working to edge the Second Amendment out of existence, the CHA has acted brazenly. Plenty of established precedent dictates that these kinds of restrictions are verboten and that should be flat-out common knowledge. Unfortunately, unassuming gun owners and the citizens at large have to continue to deal with entities hellbent on the destruction of liberty.
Even though this is just a temporary restraining order, it’s a big win. In firearm-hostile New York, for the fruits of Bruen and Heller to bud more and more, it’s a comforting thing. SAF et.al. still have a weighty task ahead of them and a long haul, but at least for now the residents are allowed to exercise their rights.